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Poison Warning For Pets And Children

We recently had a dog present to our veterinary clinic for ingestion of rat poison. This is not an unusual event for us, since dogs will eat nearly anything. Most rat and mouse poisons contain anticoagulant …rodenticides. This means that they interfere with Vitamin K’s role in blood clotting. Ingestion of these products is fatal if not treated, but there is a good outcome if the pet is treated. We induce vomiting, prevent further absorption of the toxin and give Vitamin K as a specific treatment (almost like an ‘antidote’).

What was different about this patient was the type of rat poison he consumed. This particular type contains bromethalin. It is sold locally under the “Tom Cat” brand name and is present in mouse, rat and mole/gopher formulas. What i s different about bromethalin is that it causes swelling of brain cells (‘cerebral edema’) and severe neurological signs such as seizures and coma. Once signs develop there is little chance of reversing the process, and the pet will usually die.

There is no antidote for this toxin. Treatment involves inducing vomiting as soon as possible, followed by stomach decontamination. This is best done at a veterinary hospital under careful supervision. Even if treated, once any of this material is absored into the pet’s system, the pet may not survive the event. If no one observed the dog’s ingestion of the bait, the dog’s death is likely. Luckily, the dog we saw was brought in immediately with the package of bait (so we knew what he’d eaten) and is doing fine.

This product is available in several local stores and claims to have child and pet resistant bait dispensers. Any enthusiastic dog (or child) can easily chew through (or get into) the plastic dispenser and get at the bait inside. There are much safer alternative methods of rodent control, including many different types of traps.

*Dr. Carrie Damewood

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